10 Approaches to Help you Teach about the Holocaust

Teaching about the Holocaust is a lesson in what can happen when hate, extreme prejudice ideology, and discrimination are allowed to flourish and become official policy.

The following approaches support teachers as they plan to teach about the Holocaust and promote meaningful engagement among students.

Map of Jewish Communities in Europe Prior to World War 2

Map of Jewish Communities in Europe Prior to World War 2

  1. Define terms that will be used consistently including: Holocaust, genocide, and antisemitism, to ensure students are working from a common vocabulary.
  2. Prepare: Review Preparing to Use This Lesson at the beginning of each Echoes and Reflections lesson for suggestions on how to effectively teach this difficult subject matter.
  3. Background: Provide students with information about the history of the Jewish communities in Europe and the background on antisemitism and the role it played in allowing the Holocaust to occur.
  4. Contextualize the history of the Holocaust by helping students understand what happened before and after specific events. Discuss the Weimar Republic and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles using before and after imagery.
  5. Individualize the history of the Holocaust by translating statistics into personal stories; use survivor and witness testimony whenever possible.
  6. Cross Curricular: Develop a cross-curricular approach to enrich students’ understanding of the Holocaust. The Echoes and Reflections blog and news items provide creative ways to integrate Holocaust education into a variety of courses including English, art, and social studies.

    Lesson Components offers primary sources to use in Holocaust education

    Lesson Components offers an abundance of primary source materials

  7. Primary Sources: Provide an abundance of primary source materials representing a variety of perspectives. Explore resources available at Lesson Components.
  8. Appropriate: Use age-appropriate written and visual content; avoid use of horrific imagery.
  9. Connect: Make the Holocaust relevant to students’ lives by connecting what they are learning to contemporary events.
  10. Complexity: Support students in exploring the hard questions associated with studying the Holocaust. Encourage them to think deeply and avoid simple answers to this complex, challenging history.


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